Rethink Order on Ogoni Oil

HereGovernment Should Withdraw the Order for Resumption of Oil Exploitation in Ogoni Land. The Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF) and We the People notes with alarm and unease the recent memo reportedly originating from the Presidency and addressed to the Group Managing Director of the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation; and signed by Chief of Staff to the President, Mr. Abba Kyari. In the said memo dated March 1, 2019 with reference number SH/COS/24/A/8540, the NNPC and NPDC are directed to take over OML 11 (located in Ogoni, River state) from Shell Petroleum Development Company.

The letter states;

 “NNPC/NPDC to take over the operatorship, from Shell Petroleum Development Company, of the entire OML 11 not later than 30 April 2019 and ensure smooth re-entry given the delicate situation in Ogoni Land”.

It goes further to instruct

“NNPC/NPDC to confirm by May 2, 2019 the assumption of the operatorship.”

We consider this instruction by the Presidency insensitive, ill-advised and capable of inflaming suspicions and conflict in an area that is already very fragile and prone to crisis.

Recall that in 1993, Shell was forced to abandon its OML 11 operations located in Ogoni and pull out of the area, following campaigns by the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP) led by environmental rights activist Ken Saro-Wiwa , for fairer benefits to the Ogoni people from oil wealth, as well as compensation for the damage of their environment. The campaigns by the Ogoni ethnic nationality for a better deal from the Nigerian state also includingrestitution for the dearth of poverty in Ogoniland, as well as recognition and responsibility for the ecological damage of Ogoniland occasioned by the activities of oil companies.

The response of the Nigeria government to these peaceful demands was terrifying. MOSOP was brutally repressed using the Nigerian military. The mass killings and widespread carnage which the military visited on the Ogonis remain largely undocumented. Thousands of Ogonis lost their lives, and many others went into forced exile around the world. In May 1994, capitalizing on the unfortunate killing of 4 prominent Ogoni leaders by a mob of yet to be identified persons in Gokana local government area, Ken Saro Wiwa and other leaders of MOSOP were arrested and detained. After a few months of trial by a special military tribunal, a sentence of death was pronounced on Ken Saro Wiwa and 8 others on October 31, 1995. 10 days after, the nine were immediately executed on November 10, 1995.

It is important to note that the fears of ecological damage which the Ogonis expressed was confirmed in 2011 when the United Nations Environment Programme UNEP released its assessment report of soil and water samples from Ogoniland. The report confirmed massive soil and water contamination which has significantly compromised sources of livelihood and was slowly poisoning the inhabitants of the area.  So alarmed was UNEP about the findings that it recommended that inhabitants of the area immediately stop using water from all their traditional sources, while the government was to immediately commence a clean-up exercise which could take up to thirty years, and amount to the biggest soil and water remediation exercise ever embarked on.  As damning as the Report was, its recommendations remained unattended until 2016 when the government established administrative structures to commence the clean-up.

Given the above, it is worrying why the government will decide to resume oil extraction in Ogoniland when the pollution of the last decades is yet to be cleaned and the recommendations of UNEP have not been fully complied with. The action of the government at this time gives the impression that it only flagged off the Ogoni Clean up through the Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project (HYPREP) in order to purchase the goodwill to resume oil extraction in the area. How else does one explain the fact that a site supposedly being cleaned up will resume full oil extraction activities with all the pollution that comes with it?

HOMEF and We the People also note that the demands of the Ogoni people which led to the abuses they suffered in the hands of the Nigerian Military in the 1990s, and the termination of oil operations in the area, have still not been addressed. It is disappointing and demonstrates a lack of initiative for the government to imagine that those concerns have simply withered away with time. Those of us who have remain connected to the communities know for a fact that the Ogoni people remain resolute in their resistance to any renewed hydrocarbon extraction in their domains.

We fear that the manner the Presidency has approached this subject through an order, without any consultation with stakeholders in Ogoniland or concern for the reservations the people may feel, is capable of threatening the peace in the area and conveying the message that their complaints and demands have been blatantly ignored. It is important to note that since the ugly events of the 1990s, the government has not initiated any peacebuilding processes in Ogoniland, neither has any kind of amelioration for the pains, losses and suffering sustained by the people been provided.

HOMEF and We the People strongly recommend that the government withdraws this order for the resumption of oil activities in Ogoniland, and rather concentrates on redeeming the ecological disaster in the area, and replacing the lost sources of livelihood of the people.

Eco-Instigator #22

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The year could not slip by without our bringing you the December 2018 edition of your informative Eco-Instigator. The impacts of climate change are many – sea level rise, flooding, droughts, hurricanes, typhoons, weather irregularities, increased atmospheric temperature and so on. It is worrisome that at this time nations are still dithering over the causes and how to resolutely face the challenge.

Someone said that you don’t mop the floor with the tap running. We agree. Tackling climate change requires that we stop the very things pumping Green House Gases into the atmosphere and focus on transiting to 100% renewable energy.

In this edition, we serve you articles on climate change, food issues and reports from our projects. We are happy to bring you an article- Sounding the Climate Alarm which clearly advocates for the need to stop digging up more coal, more crude oil and the need to stop fracking. The issue of climate change induced clashes between herders and farmers is also brought to perspective.

Well-meaning individuals and Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) have continued to advocate for the role of agroecology to ensure food security in Nigeria and Africa at large. We share a declaration by which over 200 Global leaders and organizations reject gene drive, stating that the technology may drive species to extinction and undermine sustainable and equitable food and agriculture. We are also happy to serve you a peep into our farmers’ dia- logue which focused on Food and Farming Systems in Nige-ria and defined the pathway toFood Sovereignty.

There are must-read articles written by Firoze Manji, Femke Wijdekop, Sonali Narang, Bobby Peek and Mariann Bassey-Orovwuje in this edition. They are loaded!

In our poetry section, we give you a poem written by yours truly at a conference of the African Food Sovereignty Alliance which took place at Saly, Senegal in November 2018.

As usual, we suggest a couple of books that you should read to keep you primed for the struggle for ecological justice and the rights of Mother Earth.

Sound the climate alarm! Until Victory!

Download and read Eco-Instigator 22 here

When Dream Die

AvisittoOgale,GoiandBodoRiversstate(129of182)When dreams die, are people left with nothing but fear?  We need to question the inevitability of fear as the outcome of broken or dead dreams.

For this reflection, we will take a ‘dream’ to mean a cherished aspiration or a preferred ideal. It is indeed a strong proposition that when dreams die, they snuff out aspiration and cause ideals to appear unattainable. Dreams are the incubators of vision. They consolidate our hopes, beliefs, convictions and sense of possibility. Dead dreams can kill vision and hope. This applies to individuals as well as nations and even to the entire humanity.

The dream of global peace is being shattered on a daily basis not just by the loss of our sense of community, but also the loss of understanding that ‘community’ goes beyond just the community of people and encompasses the community of all beings. The dream of global peace gets broken by the erection of real and virtual walls between neighbourhoods, communities and nations. Dreams of peace recede with unnecessary sanctions by powerful nations and blatant preparations for war and increased militarism in times of peace. The intensifying arms race sees nations competing over who can build or acquire more state-of-the-art weapons of mass destruction. Dreams can die when creativity gets captured by hate. All these can birth fear and feed despair.

The love of money can trump peace and snuff the life out of dreams. We see humanity shamefully hanging its head in silent acquiescence to the supposition that life can be dispensed with, eliminated without question, provided the murderers stuff our pockets with promises of cash. This can breed fear of a loss of humanity and a descent into barbarism.

Let us consider one particular dream killer – the climate chaos. It is well known that the major source of greenhouse gasses triggering global warming is the burning of fossil fuels. Scientists sent early warnings that the tipping point (the point of no return) could be reached if action was not taken to stop or slow down the stoking of the atmosphere with carbon. National and global agencies warn political leaders that we are running out of time and that real action must be taken urgently. Still we dither.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) starkly states that the world has a mere twelve-year window to act. When some of us became active in the climate justice movement, our struggle was to ensure that nations cut carbon emissions at source in proportion to their levels of responsibility and capabilities. This is a climate debt owed by polluting nations. We insisted that the global temperature must not rise by more than 1 degree Celsius above what it was at the dawn of the Industrial Age. That target has already been reached. Today the official target is 1.5 degrees or well below 2 degrees Celsius. Advised by science, we also campaigned that the concentration of carbon in the atmosphere must not exceed 350 parts per million (ppm). By September 2016, the concentration level had already topped 400 ppm. Dreams die when we are so selfish and so short sighted that we forget that our children have a future ahead of them.

Dreams can die when we know the truth but chose to propagate a lie or vote for the lie. This is what climate deniers do. This is what polluters do. They seem to say that even if the world will burn in the coming decades, they would ensure they scrape the bottom of the barrel of all possible profits. To them, floods, droughts, heatwaves, forest fires, hurricanes, typhoons and the like, mean nothing but opportunities for exploitation, dispossession and accumulation.

Dreams die when trillions of dollars are spent on needless warfare while the climate finance purse literally runs on empty and vulnerable poor nations get battered by climate impacts and Small Island Nations watch their territories go under the sea.

Dreams die when we know that those who cause and benefit from climate harms have disproportionate influence on decisions and climate negotiations. Dreams die when these parties avoid mentioning the known sources and taking a stance on stopping further search for new fossil fuel reserves and deposits. Dreams become nightmares when expensive, ineffective but convenient actions are promoted rather than embarking on real solutions.

Dreams of safety and health die when drainage channels are clogged with plastics and sundry trash — and suddenly it thunders. Dreams die when the trees you lived off are mowed down by illegal loggers or by officials who promise never-to-be-realized infrastructure.

With rising unemployment and underemployment, workers are uncertain of the future of their jobs. Starting wages (or minimum wage) as well as pensions at the end of the job pipe are unpredictable for many, while security votes, possibly used to buy support from military governors during the era of military dictatorship, remain on the budgets.  Corporate dreams die when decisions are forever top down, returns are poor but the wisdom from below is disdained. Same could be the outcome when companies stay stuck in the industrial mode when they should shift into the digital mode.

We can count a thousand ways by which dreams die at individual and corporate levels. The truth is that the death of a dream is not the end of the road. When dreams die, fear does not have to inevitably kick in. When dreams die, we can dream again. We can indeed have better, bigger and higher dreams. It is a choice we can make. Even if you have had the most excellent dream, waking up and taking action is always the best next step. We always have a choice to wake up from a nightmare or to dream again. This is why the end of the year offers individuals and corporations opportunities to review the ebbing year and strategize for the coming ones. This is why nations hold elections at regular cycles and offer citizens the opportunities to see if their governors are leading them on dream paths or into nightmares. This is why we must survey the global terrain and see in which direction the multilateral spaces are tilting and decide if we must stay in those paths, accept palliatives or forge new dreams.

Dreams die when we can identify the dream killers and the purveyors of fear but chose to say nothing and prefer to do nothing.

———————-

First published at https://leadership.ng/2018/11/30/when-dreams-die/

 

Red Card for Climate Inaction

Breakfree2Red Card for Climate Inaction. The Climate alarm could not have been much louder than the special report (SR15) that has just been released by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). While the Paris Agreement presented the famous target of limiting global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius, or well below 2.0 degrees, the special report shows that such a range may actually be political wishful thinking. The Special Report clearly shows that a temperature rise of 1.5 degrees above preindustrial levels will bring about severe changes compared to current extreme weather events.

Professing a diagnosis is easier than providing a solution, especially when you do not wish to ruffle feathers. Most scientists and laymen agree that although global warming has risen and abated in the past, what has happened since the industrial revolution is a vertical climb that shows no sign of reversion. It is also generally agreed that the catastrophic rise is largely systemic – caused by the exploitative economic system that the world is locked on. It is this rigged system that blocks the routes to the needed climate action.

Is it not known that the problem is about the continual burning of fossil fuels that stokes the atmosphere with greenhouse gases? Why is the world reluctant to stop the extraction and burning of fossil fuels even though these are known to be detrimental? The answer is simply that the powers-that-be prefer profit to people and the planet. So, business as usual continues and disaster brings even more profit through displacement of poor people and the grabbing of resources that the poor and the vulnerable are unable to access or return to.

The world will cringe at the dire prognosis of the report, and then go right ahead to dig up more coal, more crude oil and proceed with more fracking. Governments will still dig for coal and destroy forests in the process, despite loud alarms raised by forest protectors such as the ones at the Hambach Forest in Germany. And in Nigeria, the flaring of associated gas will continue and the dream of a superhighway through the last pristine forest will persist in Cross River State.

Happily, the appeal court at The Hague sided with Urgenda in the case against the Dutch government and declared that the government has a duty to take adequate climate action as a means of protecting the citizens from climate impacts and for securing the human rights. Interestingly the court also discounted the Dutch government’s argument that the carbon being pumped into the atmosphere today will be sucked out in future. We note that SR15 also acknowledges that the carbon-sucking technologies being bandied about are unproven.

The IPCC report diagnosed the problem and raised the alarm urging politicians and economic leaders to act. However, some of the suggested actions are equally alarming and will likely add more problems for the poor, the unprotected and the vulnerable, in the unfolding climate chaos.

The voluntary, nationally determined contribution of the Paris Agreement is clearly not the solution. It is time for nations to step up and accept legally binding emissions reduction based on historical and current carbon emissions. The alarm has been sounded. It is no more time to sleep.

We are told that the window for halting the chaotic climate march is a narrow twelve years. It is stated that by 2030, the global emissions of carbon dioxide must be cut by 45 percent from 2010 levels. It is also estimated that by 2050 renewables should provide 85 percent of global electricity.

So, what is to be done? When the IPCC says that action must be taken to ensure that the store of carbon in the atmosphere is brought to net zero, what is meant is that the amount of carbon released from excessive consumption and burning of fossil fuels and the like must be equal to the amount of carbon that is captured and stored somewhere, locked in sinks or deflected by some other means. These proposed actions, the hallmark of market environmentalism, are the real alarm bells that we should wake up to.

And, we cannot forget that about 7 million square kilometres will be needed for so-called energy crops.  That sounds nice, no? The more understandable names for those crops are biofuel and agrofuel crops. These are crops grown to feed machines or to provide biomass for some synthetic processes. An uptake of that massive size of land away from food crops will definitely bring profit to industrial farmers; promote genetically engineered crops and attendant agrotoxics while raising global hunger and diverse social malaise. Also, more forests will be designated as carbon sinks with corresponding exclusion of communities from enjoying and managing their common heritage.

It is estimated that up to $2.4 trillion would have to be invested in energy systems in the next two decades to limit global temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius. This is at a time that the world cannot raise $10 billion for Climate Finance.

Catastrophe is not inevitable if we can wake up from slumber and face reality.

Polluting and capturing and locking up pollutants in some carbon prisons, is not a new idea. It is a brilliant marketing spin. It allows business as usual, permits climate irresponsibility and delivers heavy cash to the polluters. For example, oil companies that use associated gas to literally scrape the bottom of oil wells will claim they are engaged in carbon capture and sequestration – even though they release the carbon in the first instance by drilling for oil. Companies engaged in geoengineering will don their beautiful badges as climate engineers and work to deploy an array of climate-interfering planetary experiments – including cloud whitening, solar mirrors in the sky, other forms of solar radiation management as well as ocean fertilization. Yes, with net zero carbon targets we can keep cranking up global temperatures but hope that “we have the technologies” to handle the problems.

Humankind’s techno optimism gives policy makers that assurance and also that the oceans and genetically engineered trees can suck carbon from the atmosphere. It assures them that we can ape volcanoes and release particles into the sky that would block the sun and cool the earth. Suddenly it is as though our planetary systems are not interconnected and one part can be tweaked without a corresponding result elsewhere. But, who would really care if the negative impacts can be deflected on those destined for the slaughter?

Catastrophe is not inevitable if we can wake up from slumber and face reality. Life style changes and alternative investment patterns can no longer be delayed. Investment in socialized forms of renewable energy cannot be postponed. Fossil fuels must be seen as stranded or bad assets and left in the ground. Agroecological food production cools the planet, so investment and support must be extended to that and to small scale producers.

The cost of inaction or bad action is extreme. Temperature increases will make it impossible for certain crops, including maize, rice and wheat to be cultivated. Millions more will be hit by flooding. Sea level will rise and coastal erosion will be more dramatic. With the suite of negative changes, the tide of climate refugees will rise.

The voluntary, nationally determined contribution of the Paris Agreement is clearly not the solution. It is time for nations to step up and accept legally binding emissions reduction based on historical and current carbon emissions. The alarm has been sounded. It is no more time to sleep.

Read your Eco-Instigator #20

AA8EB60C-09EB-4BBE-B281-BF6E63FB4206The June 2018 edition of Eco-Instigator is available online. In this edition, we serve you reports, stories and articles on hunger and fossil politics. There is a report from an agroecology workshop held in Thika, Kenya, which brought together farmers and advocacy organizations to interrogate the concept of agroecology as the path to sustainable agricultural practice with local-knowledge based science.
We have had occasion to denounce the permitting nature of the Nigerian National Biosafety Management Agency (NBMA). We regret that rather than improving, the agency continues to slide and at the close of 2017 endorsed the importation of genetically modified maize that had earlier been impounded and ordered to be repatriated by the importers. Shocking? We bring you our statement: When GMO applications are mere formalities.
False solutions orchestrated by greedy corporations and backed by allied promoters alike are being propagated as remedies to the food crisis. They all claim they want to feed hungry Africans. Their thinly veiled neocolonial arguments are unfortunately bought by governments that ought to protect our peoples rather than the profit profiles of these entities. We serve you articles that urge that we tread with caution in order not to compound our food production problems. We bring you an interesting article: Science with Caution: Why GMOs are a Bad Idea to challenge your thinking and provoke corresponding actions.
For over one year, Port Harcourt, Nigeria’s oil capital has been blanketed by soot from a variety of hydrocarbon pollution sources. We bring you report from an #EndtheSoot rally that was held in Port Harcourt to raise the awareness of the impact of the down pour of soot, its attendant effects and to demand that the polluters are brought to book.
We also bring a concise and highly informative paper on oil pollution in South Sudan. It is written by the executive director of our partner organisation in that country. Read Environmental and Public Health Catastrophe in the South Sudanese Oil fields: Oil, Wealth, and Health.
As usual, we serve you interesting poems from renowned poets and also books you should read.

Download and read your copy Eco-Instigator #20
Until victory!

Nnimmo

Decolonise, Revive, Transform. Eco-Instigator #17 now online

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It has been a very eventful year and HOMEF is happy to serve you a menu of key environmental reports. These events cover our work with communities of fisher folks as well as our connections to fishermen elsewhere. As an organisation that treasures knowledge generation and sharing, we keep on learning from our interactions with communities.

The struggle for safe food continues. Our cover story brings you Africa’s first Earth Jurisprudence graduates. See the article Decolonise, Revive, Transform.

Download full edition here: Eco-instigator #17

Stand with Acción Ecológica

accion-ecologicaAcción Ecológica presents evidence 7 PM GMT today on why the government of Ecuador should not shut down the organisation. Join and watch the live streaming by clicking here at that time.

Acción Ecológica is an Ecuadorian ecological organization that has worked to defend nature for 30 years and is also an integral part of the International Federation for Human Rights – FIDH. Acción Ecológica is convinced that it is only by defending the territories and peoples that we can support Nature’ reproduction of life as well as the rights of humans.

The group has been remained strong in the defence of the rights of Nature and peoples despite periodic persecution by authorities. Their work has inspired many activists and communities around the world. They are central to the work of Oilwatch International in pushing for the urgent transition from fossil fuels if we are to avoid catastrophic global warming.

They will not give, because according to then: ‘We will continue defending human rights and nature because “We are like the chaff of the moor that starts and grows again …”.’

As a mark of solidarity, we call on everyone to log on and watch the presentation by Acción Ecológica at 2 PM Ecuadorian time or – 7.00 pm GMT today 6 January 2017.